Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Color and Form: Remembering Alessandro Mendini

At the age of 87, Italian architect and designer Alessandro Mendini passed away Monday, February 18, 2019. A true renaissance man, Mendini worked in architecture, graphic design, interiors, product designer, furniture, and visual art. He was an important player in the radical design movement of the 1960s, and the postmodern movement that followed. His wit and playfulness merged color and function, creating pieces both visually striking and commercially successful.

Adam Nathaniel Furman, designer and postmodern expert, described Mendini as “a figure of staggering importance, and a beautiful mind who helped open up horizons.”

 

Alessandro Mendini, Dezeen

 

Peter Halley & Alessandro Mendini murano, Mary Boone Gallery

 

Interior by Mendini, Architectural Digest

 

Mendini was born in Milan in 1931 and graduated in 1959 from the Politecnico di Milano with a degree in architecture. As his voice grew in the design and art world, Mendini became a leading design critic for 15 years as the managing editor of Casabella magazine (1970-1976), founder and managing editor of Mode (1977-1981), and finally the managing editor of Domus (1982-1985). His viewpoint focused on renewing the world through design.

Always whimsical, his product and furniture design may be how he is known best. His baroque meets modern Proust armchair is renowned by the design world, and his anthropomorphic Anna G corkscrew epitomizes his recognizable, joyful flair. His pieces meld art and design, boasting bold colors and personality.

 

Proust Armchair by Mendini, Philadelphia Museum of Art

 

Anna G Corkscrew by Mendini for ALESSI, ALESSI

 

Domus covers while Mendini was editor, Art Pictures

 

During his lifetime, Mendini was honored with two Compasso d’Oro awards and received a European Prize for Architecture Award. He continued to work until his death, running his own studio with his brother in Milan, the Atelier Mendini. His humor, viewpoint, and influence will not be forgotten.

When asked in an interview with designboom from 2000 about his style, Mendini stated, “I am on a quest to communicate through my objects and work in general, trying to say things that encourage people to deepen meditation and spirituality.”

 

Gronginer Museum by Mendini, Dezeen
Mendini, Telerama
Posted by cecilia at 06:02:29 AM
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Thursday, January 03, 2019

The 2019 Fantastical Ice Hotel

In Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, the Ice Hotel has become a reoccurring ode to architecture. For 28 years, this man-made wonder has been erected each winter, made of 2,500 tons of ice pulled from the nearby Torne River. This seasonal salute to snow and art features a main lobby, event hall, and 15 guest rooms. These rooms are called “art suites,” each made uniquely from ice by different artists. This year the rooms were created by 33 artists from 13 different countries. The 2019 Ice Hotel is now open to visitors, and thousands are pouring into this small Swedish town before the rooms melt in March.

 

Deluxe Suite designed by Tommy Alatalo, Ice Hotel

 

Ice Hotel, Telegraph

 

Haven Suite designed by Jonas Johansson, Jordi Claramunt, and Lukas Petko, Curbed

 

Guests staying in the rooms are provided sleeping bags designed for sub-zero temperatures as the furniture, including beds, are also made of ice. Excursions such as winter survival courses, husky sledding, and ice sculpting are also available.

 

Deluxe Suite, Ice Hotel

 

Living Ocean Suite designed by Jonathan Paul Green and Marnie Green, Curbed

 

Dog Sledding Excursions, Telegraph

 

Ice Hotel Room, Curbed
Posted by cecilia at 05:13:39 AM
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Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Prada’s Architectural Restorations: Shanghai

To continue last week’s exploration of Prada’s cultural restorations, their most recent and most ambitious project was the Rong Zhai villa in Shanghai. Completed just last year, the early-20th-century Western-style garden villa took six years to restore, and it is now open to the public as a cultural center for exhibitions and performances.

Front entrance to Rong Zhai | Elle Decor

 

Doorways and paneling in Rong Zhai | Elle Decor

The villa was originally built between 1899 and 1910 for a German expatriate, and then purchased and expanded in 1918 by Yung Tsoong-King, an agricultural businessman known as the “Flour King” from Wuxi, China. As described by Elle Decor, he turned the house into a “harmonious melding of revivalism, [with] ancient Greek motifs, Chinese aesthetics, and Art Deco details.” He, along with his wife and seven children, made the home a social hub of Shanghai. They threw 48-hour-long parties that you weren’t allowed (or desiring) to leave until it was over, with rotating bands (including opera stars and other celebrities) and swing beds– all hosted in the stained glass-ceilinged ballroom. Unfortunately, in 1938 the Yung family was forced to flee to Hong Kong to escape the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Yung Tsoong-King | Elle Decor, courtesy of Prada

 

Rong Zhai’s grand ballroom | Prada

 

Rong Zhai villa then became a government building for the Communist Party and then offices for Rupert Murdoch. It was declared cultural heritage of the Jing’an district in 2004 and included in a list of Shanghai’s most relevant historic buildings. And then Prada purchased the home in 2011 and enlisted Italian architect Roberto Baciocchi to oversee its restoration. Working with local Chinese artisans and historians, along with Italian artisans, the many surfaces and materials were meticulously brought back to life using historically accurate techniques to maintain their authenticity.

Enamel tiles in the Lotus Bedroom | Elle Decor

 

Hearth with columns | Prada

 

Drawing room/ dining area | Elle Decor

 

The villa has a unique Western-style architecture, but with Chinese deco elements and Classical and European influences. There are stained-glass windows, gilded ceilings, Chinese-scene-scapes, stucco and plaster walls, ceramic tiling, inlaid Chinoiserie details, Grecian columns out front and a hand-carved wooden teak panels inside. The result is an international cultural synthesis that Prada has reinvigorated to its rightful splendor. They have brought life back to the building through the hosted cultural activities and events, and H.C. Yung, youngest son of Yung Tsoong-King, says, “If he was still alive, my father would have been extremely happy.”

International cultural synthesis | Prada

“Architecture has always been a source of inspiration for Prada. The analysis of practical, commercial and historic implications of buildings has always had a crucial role in the development of Prada’s activity, through a profound commitment to contemporary architectural experimentation projects and rigorous historic preservation.

Notably, China — the country and how Europeans perceive it — has always been part of the brand’s imagery… we have sought opportunities to expand our explorations in architecture and other artistic fields in China. This was the principle that led us to Rong Zhai, the historic residence capable to properly embody our ongoing commitment to Chinese culture and Sino-European dialogue”.

-Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli

Posted by lauren at 06:02:19 AM
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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Prada’s Architectural Restorations: Venice & Milan

The Italian luxury fashion house Prada, known for their avant-garde and forward-thinking designs, also reveres and protects the past– specifically through preservation and rehabilitation of historic architecture. They have funded three major projects in this realm: Ca’ Corner della Regina in Venice, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, and Rong Zhai villa in Shanghai (which will receive its own feature next week).

Ca’ Corner della Regina | Fondazione Prada
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II | Gobbi 1842

Ca’ Corner della Regina is a 300-year-old palazzo on the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. It was built between 1724 and 1728 by Domenico Rossi, it then became the property of Pope Pius VII in 1800, and was used as a host for charitable organizations until 1969. From 1975-2010 it was the home of the ASAC (the Historical Archive of Contemporary Art of the Venice Biennale), until 2011 when Prada oversaw the restoration of the palace, which now functions as the Venetian arm of its arts-minded Fondazione Prada.

The primary goal was to secure and preserve everything with artistic and architectural value. This included maintenance of the wooden doors, windows and shutters, removing all non-original partition walls to reclaim spaces that had been turned into offices and service rooms, and secure the decorative and ornamental frescoes, stuccos, and stonework throughout the building.

Ca’ Corner della Regina Interior | Fondazione Prada
Ca’ Corner della Regina Hall | Fondazione Prada
Ca’ Corner della Regina Stairs | Fondazione Prada
Ca’ Corner della Regina Exterior | Fondazione Prada

Galleria Vittoria Emanuele II is an iconic glass and cast iron arcade designed by Giuseppe Mengoni and built in 1865 in Milan, Italy. After Milan was freed from Austrian control, the Milanese municipality organized contests to gather ideas for how to modernize the city’s central Piazza Duomo. Mengoni’s project was the winner, praised for its pragmatism and elegance. The gallery was built in honor of Italy’s last King and signaled Italy’s newly brokered unity. It is also frequently dubbed the world’s first shopping mall.

Galleria in Approximately 1900 | Hotel Windsor Milan

 

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Exterior | Train Travel Italy
Galleria Ceiling | Gobbi 1842

Very quickly, the Galleria became the meeting point of the Milanese higher classes– they strolled here to shop, show their furs, and stop for a coffee. In 1913, Mario Prada founded Prada’s initial storefront inside the  prestigious Galleria, selling luxury travel articles and accessories. The original shop has kept its ancient flavor even today. The mahogany shelving units are the same ones Mario Prada specially commissioned, and a selection of historic Prada products are displayed.

In 2015, Prada teamed up with fellow Italian fashion label Versace to sponsor a year-long cultural restoration. They hired esteemed Italian restoration firm Gasparoli to brush away dust and soot using brushes and vacuum-like machines, remove caked on dirt using a neutral detergent and gentle water hose that cleans, but also maintains the Galleria’s historic patina, and paint stucco into the fine cracks and small holes throughout the building.

Galleria in 2016 after restoration | Bau-Xi
Restoration process | Wallpaper

It is an impressive undertaking to restore and preserve these celebrated works of architecture, and Prada’s patronage will ensure these great buildings continue to share their beauty and history. Their third and most recent major project, the Rong Zhai villa in Shanghai, is sure to inspire as well. More on this one next week!

Posted by lauren at 11:23:38 PM
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